Price: Reds' bench situation is wide open

Veteran acquisitions Jennings, Raburn have opportunity to help ballclub

Price: Reds' bench situation is wide open

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Bench spots are often the farthest from the spotlight, but having the right people who can face some of the toughest relief pitchers in baseball is essential in the later innings.

The Reds were thin with veteran bench candidates until adding Desmond Jennings last week and Ryan Raburn on Friday. Both have Minor League deals with invites to camp, and both are expected to arrive on Sunday. Otherwise, the battles are wide open for the remaining spots.

"It's a real crapshoot at this point in time, especially finding guys that have some -- at least Triple-A time -- that have enough experience or savvy to handle being a bench player," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Saturday. "That's why I think guys like Desmond Jennings and Ryan Raburn, they fall right into the middle of the mix because of the experience they potentially could have for us off the bench."

Raburn can play all four infield spots and the corner outfield positions.

"Ryan has experience, especially hitting really successfully against left-handed pitching," Price said. "I like what he brings to the table so I am looking forward to seeing him play."

Raburn's grand slam

Cincinnati's other bench candidates are Arismendy Alcantara and non-roster invites such as Tony Renda, Hernan Iribarren and Patrick Kivlehan. There are expected to be five bench spots, with catcher Tucker Barnhart getting one assuming Devin Mesoraco is healthy.

With Mesoraco returning from hip and shoulder surgeries, there is a chance the Reds could carry a third catcher as protection -- someone like Rule 5 Draft pick Stuart Turner or non-roster invite Rob Brantly.

One issue is most of the bench candidates are right-handed, but Alcantara is a switch-hitter and Brantly bats from the left side.

"We have some limitations of what we have from the left side," Price said. "Rob Brantly, that's a luxury to have a third catcher who isn't going to catch much if Devin and Tucker are good to go. He does give you a guy with some experience at this level who has experience swinging the bat and give you a veteran at-bat. It'd be nice to have a power threat too, and that's why Ryan and Desmond also play into the equation."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.